Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Out of my element…. into a P.R in more ways than one!

Written By: Natalia Martin

Not long ago I was purely a solo runner. For the past 24 years, I had always trained alone except twice (no mystery as to how that turned out…) I assumed the head-clearing, blissful, sweaty solitude over the miles as I inhaled nature on my own terms was the ultimate running experience. It worked for me. My fear was that this experience would be tainted if I ran with others outside of a racing environment.

But when I started training for my first two marathons (Chicago ’97 & Paris ‘06) those longer marathon training runs got BORING; the motivation that never fails to get me out the door would morph into a stale attitude that clung to me, dragged me down, & occasionally muttered “Sure, slow down that pace” or “heck, stop and walk”, or “hey, look, a GARAGE SALE!!!”

It wasn’t leg fatigue, inadequate fuel/hydration, or the wrong shoes that got me, but the monotony of going on long solo run after long solo run. After finishing those two marathons I knew I could have done a lot better in my training and finishing times if I had felt more inspired and motivated throughout the training journey, as well as being more knowledgeable about strategies for running longer distances.

Running should be enjoyable and training for a marathon should be the same….but HOW? I had signed up for the 2013 Portland Marathon and was excited to train, but needed to do something different….like, perhaps, run with other people (YIKES!) I feared running with someone who was one or more of the following:

• nauseatingly chatty

• had too many annoying habits (I can tolerate up to 4 or 5)

• overly competitive (I save that for race days)

• not serious enough (coffee stops are for before and/or after a run)

• had a pace that didn’t mesh at all with mine

• unreliable

• a chronic complainer (toenail issues are only interesting for 5 minutes…)

Despite these concerns and mentally armed with one of my favorite quotes, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone” I signed up for the marathon training group offered by USA FIT Bend. My comfort zone was running solo and I very reluctantly challenged it. This was the best running-related decision I have ever made (second best was buying a great running watch…FootZone sells those;-) The Saturday training runs quickly became the highlight of my week, for many reasons, a large part because of my fellow runners, the conversations, and the shared experience of working towards a common goal.

Geof & Tonya, the USA FIT Bend organizers, and the coaches, have created the perfect environment for participants (seasoned runners and those completely new to the distance) to be inspired and motivated by ALL to meet the marathon goal. Participants are placed in coached groups based on running pace. There is a different training plan for each group and a track workout during the week. All of the coaches are seasoned athletes with TONS of interesting, valuable information, great stories, and a genuine interest in making the journey to the marathon fun, injury-free, educational, and motivating. They deliver! I am a far more knowledgeable runner in training and racing because of what I learned from the coaches and other runners every Saturday. But the most impressive part of the experience was the support, camaraderie, friendships I made, and JOY of running those training miles together with USA FIT Bend without boredom or diminishing motivation! This is a big change from my previous marathon training experiences running solo. My running experience has a new dimension, and I have some fabulous friends to run with year-round.

As for the Portland marathon, I got a PR, qualified for the Boston Marathon, and have training friends as I venture into ultra marathon territory. Of course, I have signed up for USA Fit Bend again! You should, too! It’s true, that “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”. I am excited about this personal mental and physical change from this awesome training program.

Natalia Martin, 38, is a stay at home mom to a Nicolas (5) and Keira (3). Her supportive husband, Keith, thinks she is a bit nuts with this long distance running stuff. He is grateful (and spends less time rolling his eyes at her) because she has found USA FIT Bend; consequently, he doesn’t have to listen to her talk quite as much about running shoes, hydration options, gel ingredients, race reports, salt capsule brands, and finding the best calf sleeves because she can channel all that fun into Saturday morning runs.

Interested in stepping outside your comfort zone? Join USA Fit Bend and train for the Portland Marathon or another fall marathon of your choice. For more information, go We can't wait to run with you!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Run a 5k in 6 Weeks?!?

Written By: Claire Sheehan

1st day of Training
Two weeks into the new year and I finally came up with a New Year’s Resolution….I want to make 2014 the year I become a runner. I had run some here and there in the past, but mainly because my Aunt made me. Oddly enough I have always had a dream of running a half marathon, yet I never pushed myself to get out there and make it happen.  After recently moving to Bend, where the vast majority of the population has at least one go-to outdoor sport they are addicted to, I realized I needed to choose one for myself.

So, I aimlessly started searching Google for activities to do in Bend and I cameacross the FootZone website. I had visited this site before and dreamed about the day I would join one of their several weekly FREE group runs. I admired anyone who could just head downtown to FootZone and confidently run the 3-5 miles planned while possibly not knowing anyone in the group.

I wanted to be that person. I wanted to not only be confident enough, but able to run 3-5 miles on a regular basis as well. So, three weeks into the New Year I clicked “join” and paid the fee to join the Couch to 5k training group. BAM! It was done; I was going to become a runner!!! Then, as I was printing the receipt I realized what I had just done. I had signed up to join a group where I assumed I would not know ANYONE and I would train to run 3.1 miles with them. All of a sudden I freaked out and was already dreading the next 5 days until Saturday. Thoughts just flew across my brain….What do runners wear? Do I even own a good sports bra? What do I eat before I go? Can I drink coffee? What if I’m the only one that shows up? What if I am the oldest person there? What if I am the youngest person there? What if I’m the slowest person there? Do I even have time to train for this?
LOADS of questions and different scenarios popped into my mind. The next thing I knew it was Saturday morning and my alarm clock was going off! AAHH! The day had come and it was a COLD one, 18 degrees cold! So I made myself believe that the first day we would meet at FootZone and just talk about running and the training program. I figured because it was so cold and we were new to the running world that they would not make us go outside and actually run. So with those thoughts in mind, I was able to get up and get ready quickly! I even arrived 20 minutes early and sat in the store with a few of the mentors.

Crossing the 5k Finsh Line
As people started coming in, I was relieved to see the diversity in the group. There were children joining with their parents, grandmothers, men and women of all different shapes, sizes, and ages! Just as I had assumed this morning, we all sat around with our lead trainer, Michelle, and introduced ourselves. I felt extremely calm and elated that I had joined this group AND showed up that first day : ) Michelle then talked to us about some various things running related. I figured this would continue for a bit before we’d get our training schedules and meet back next week for our first run. Man, was I WRONG! Michelle wrapped up her talk and proceeded to tell us we were going on our first run. Nerves came flooding back but I had no way out so I had to proceed. “Here goes nothing” I said to myself and followed the group outside.

Our workout for the day was to jog 1 minute, walk 1 minute 10x.  While we did our workout we talked to each other and started bonding and achieving the common goal which was to become a runner. I had such a high once the first day was over I knew I had made the right decision. I took my running calendar home and started scheduling my runs for the upcoming week. Each week we increased our jogging time and lessened the walking time. Looking at the schedule it seemed to be small increases but in the training it was scary and exciting to meet each Saturday and watch my goal of becoming a runner come true. The weekly workouts included days of just walking, rest, and some jogging with walking. It was easy to maintain and actually fun to do! I was literally able to see my progress each week I increased my running time.

Everyone deserves to experience this!
Six weeks after that first Saturday of running 1 minute at a time we were running a 5k! A 5k is 3.1 miles ladies and gentlemen, 3.1 miles. To be able to complete that in 6 weeks was a HUGE accomplishment and I am so proud of all of us that persevered and completed the 5k! The feeling I had crossing that finish line was an out of body experience, I felt invincible! I instantly flashbacked to that first day and how far all of us had come and was so proud of not only myself but of everyone that finished! That feeling alone keeps me going even now, weeks later. It is the feeling that gets me up early in the morning or off the couch to go run. I set a goal and I achieved it and that is something I hope everyone has the opportunity to do!

Not only did this class push me outside of my comfort zone and help me achieve a goal of becoming a runner but introduced me to incredible people who I have become friends and continue to run with. All of the mentors were amazing, keeping us positive and passing on their running experiences to us.  Michelle, our leader is one of the most inspirational women I have ever met and has a gift of making everyone feel at ease. She can channel her confidence onto others which is a rare talent. All in all I hope you see that anyone can set a goal and achieve it….even if that goal is to become a runner : ) 

We just ran a 5k in the SNOW, bring on the coffee!
Special thanks to Bluebird Coffee for hosting us!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Kraig's Shoe Review

By Kraig Erickson:

I take my job very seriously.  Since I was a little kid, shoes have always been a passion for me.  There is nothing like a new pair of shoes.  Once, at about 7 years old I got a new pair of runners.  I don’t remember the brand but I remember that they were red, white and blue, and when I was wearing them I was really fast.  My parents have a picture taken the night I got those new shoes.  My mom had pulled back the sheets on my bed as I slept and behold the shoes were still on my feet, and so began my love affair with shoes. 

I teach a Functional Strength Training Class for Runners at the FootZone on Wednesdays at 7:15 PM and Thursdays at 7:15 AM.  Frequently after the Thursday morning class there is a group of us that goes for a run after class.  Last week with the weather not so nice and my knee a little wonky, I decided to run on the treadmill in the store.  I know BORING! The upside is it gave me chance to choose some shoes to test out.  So, I decided to run a mile in three different shoes before I opened the store and write a review of the shoes. 

The first shoe I chose was the new Salomon Sense Pro trail shoe.  I had just gotten a pair of these and I have been super excited about this shoes ever since we got it in the store and I tried it on for the first time.  This shoe is a more affordable version of the S-Lab racing shoe that retailed for $200.  At $130 it is very competitively priced against similar shoes. I have been impressed with the last couple new offerings from Salomon.  This shoe is a slightly minimal shoe with a 6mm heel to toe offset and a moderately flexible midsole.  I have never been a fan of the speed laces on Salomon’s but this pair actually grabs well through the mid-foot thanks to some plastic tubing added to the eyelets so the lace tightens evenly.  The shoe wraps the mid-foot well, holds the heel and has an ample toe box.  There is some great protection underfoot with Salomon’s Profeel Film and a great toe bumper all the way around.  The outsole is perfect for Central Oregon, it does not have the big lugs of a Speed Cross or Fellraiser but plenty of traction for the trail and it could be used on the road without issue.   Now to the running, I really like this shoe.  It is close to the ground but still has great cushioning without feeling mushy.  It transitions easily off the toe thanks to a flexible midsole that has become common in the trail shoe market.  It is very balanced with full foot contact.  I have a lot of trail training and racing coming this Spring and Summer and this could become my go to shoe.

For my second shoe I switched gears big time from trail minimal to road premium cushioning.  A new company to the FootZone, the Swiss designed, ON Cloud Surfer.  We carrying three shoes from this company and they all fit great and look awesome!  I have been running in the Cloud Racer which is a light weight trainer/racer but I wanted to give their super cush Surfer a shot and see how it stacks up against standby’s like the Brooks Glycerin and Asics Nimbus.  In a word, it does.  ON gets their cushion from their Cloud, small open spaces in the rubber outsole that compress and flex as you run.  Just like it’s name the shoe feels like a cloud under foot.  It is super cushioned and it transitions great, whether you forefoot strike or heel strike this shoe takes up the shock and keeps you moving.   Check out the video on their website that compares shock to the lower leg between a traditional EVA cushioned shoe.  An added bonus is the great job ON did with colors and design on the uppers. They look as good as they feel.  Come in a try one of these ON and see what you think.

My last shoe was the Adidas Glide Boost.  Since Adidas released their Boost foam last year we have had many customers looking for this mythical foam that practically runs for you according to something I read from someone on Twitter.  We got the Adios Boost a couple months ago and were very impressed, it is as “boingy” as people say.  As boingy as the Adios is, the Glide is boingier.  I was really happy with how much better this Glide fit than the past Glide’s with traditional foam.  Adidas continues to refine their fits and these latest shoes show some of that work.  The Boost foam gives you great cushion but is still really responsive.  You could put a lot of miles in this shoe in couch like comfort.  Adidas has also improved their color combos and the shoes look really nice. We also just got the Energy Boost in which will be the boingiest shoe in the bunch. 

There are a lot of new offerings arriving in the FootZone.  Come on in and try on some new kicks as we head into spring. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Don't race? There are a lot of fun running events for you!

By Max King:

It's March. This year is already flying by and Daylight Savings is just around the corner. Hopefully you checked out our Ready, Set, Register a couple weeks ago to help plan out our running events calendar but if not, don't worry. There's still plenty of time and plenty of events to fill up a years worth of adventure. I know not all of you are racers so this year I encourage you to check out the wide variety of events that are available to runners, and don't think that just because you don't "race" that there isn't a larger community out there you can connect with. 
At FootZone alone you can check out one of our themed fun runs each month, or a fun run like the Hot Chocolate runs hosted by the Central Oregon Running Klub. The brand new Tour de Chutes Run is a non-competitive benefit run and a great way to give back while meeting some great people.
For big adventurers there are weeklong running vacations through the Colorado Rockies such as the Transrockies Run. It's more like a big running camp for adults and a ton of fun to get to meet runners from around the world. A little closer to home Kraig and I are going to start some "runpacking" adventures that will involve 2-3 night adventures with some good running in wild places. Stay tuned for more on that. 

For those that want to learn as much as they can about running look for training groups to get involved with, free clinics at least monthly at the FootZone, and even FootZone Movie nights like our screening of the new movie Solstice on March 13th

Whatever your running passion is, get out and do it this year. Now more than ever there are so many different types of events to be involved with that you don't have to feel pressured to sign up for just another "race". Get out and follow your passion this year. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

FootZone Spike Days

Training Shoes under $100
Twice a year we get to tout the speedier side of the running world with High School Spike Days. Spike Days for us represents our role in getting local high school athletes in not just spikes for competition but in the best training and competition shoes at an affordable price. Fitting people in well fitting shoes is our passion and this extends to fitting local track athletes into the appropriate spikes and training shoes to give them the best chance at success. Competition and training shoes for track and field are as important as any performance shoe and it’s important to be fit by a professional for the proper fit and function.


When you come into the FootZone we’re there to help you figure out exactly which shoes will serve you the best through your track and field season. We’ll look at which events you plan to compete in, help to determine whether you need training shoes and/or competition shoes, and look at the fit of the various brands.

This season we’ve selected the best competition shoes from Brooks, Asics, Nike, and Saucony and carry shoes for every event on the track or the field.

The majority of an athletes time is spent during regular training so it’s important to have a good training shoe as well. We’ve hand picked a variety of great training shoes at $100 or under since we realize that value is important.

Spikes from Saucony include the Soarin J for jumping events, the Velocity for middle distance to distance, and the Spitfire for sprints. Saucony tends to run a bit more narrow but true to size in length than other spikes.

The Turbo Jump highlights our selection from Asics and while a jump event shoe, it can be used for a multitude of different event from pole vault, hurdles, sprints, and jumps. Also available will be Hyper LD for distance, Hyper MD for middle distance, Hyper Rocketgirl for womens middle distance, the Hyper Sprint, and the Hyper Throw for the throws events.


Nike is back with the super lightweight high performance Victory spike. This is an awesome competition shoe and has been at the forefront of high performance track and field for several years. Also available from Nike will be the Rival Sprint, Rival Middle Distance, and the Rival Distance.

Last but not least is our Brooks offering. Tending a bit wider overall, Brooks comes in with solid offerings PR LD, PR MD, and PR Sprint.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ali's February Product Highlights

Written By: Ali Halpin

Addaday – A great new self massage tool, a new Footzone favorite! Great for targeting tight muscles in
your hamstrings, quads, calf, and hips. Great option if a foam roller is too intense or if you have a knot
you need to work on.

Oiselle Flow Tight – Oiselle’s latest addition to their tight line up. These tights are so buttery soft you wont want to take them off. With a large yoga style waist band and a crop length that comes up just above the ankle these tights are going to be a great addition for late winter/early spring runs.

Oiselle Side Zip Neck – This stylish new piece is made from Oiselle’s famous Lux fabric. A lower neck and a side zipper add style and warmth. This is a great addition to your running wardrobe that will look just as cute with your favorite running bottoms as it will with your favorite jeans!

Arcteryx Accelero Jacket – While the spring months bring us warmer weather and we are able to ditch our winter jackets we often still need a light shield to protect us from the chilly mornings and mid day gusts. Meet the Accelero, a lightweight breathable jacket that is perfect for those shoulder season runs.

Sugoi Titan Knicker – ¾ Tights are a favorite among the male staff here at the Footzone. Durring the shoulder season a full tight is often too much but its too cold still to wear shorts. Voila, Thus where the ¾ tight comes into play! This light weight option from Sugoi is a great choice for

Shoe Quivers

Written By: Max King

Folks often come in the shop and ask us, "What's the best shoe for me?" So we'll ask a series
of questions to get at what you're doing in your shoes and do our best to assess what you (the 
customer) would likely get the most out of. Now, a lot of times we'll be able to narrow it down to 
one shoe that will do just about everything you want to do in it, but often times we can't narrow it 
down to just one and that's when you start to develop a shoe "quiver".

FootZones' Shoe Wall

I wrote about this in the Newsletter Tip O’ The Month for Feb 2013 but wanted to dive a little deeper as to why and what a shoe quiver could mean to you. If you've been in and fitted for shoes you may have heard a few of us talk about a shoe "quiver" and why it might be important to have a couple pairs of shoes. The quiver consists of a few very different types of shoes for different uses. The easiest two uses would be simply a road shoe and a trail shoe, or indoor treadmill shoe and outside running shoe. This is a simple quiver and one I suspect that many of you already have. But, if you'll let me expand on that notion of multiple shoes I think you'll see a bigger benefit in your varied activities if you can specify your footwear.

Can you do multiple things with one shoe and have it work? Of course you can. If you ride bikes a lot you can think of this as different types of bikes, mountain, road, or cyclocross or maybe a fat bike (Hokas), and how the performance is affected by varying terrain. Can you ride a road bike on a mountain trail? Sure, but performance is going to be affected. Here at the shop I think we take the position too often when working with you to find new footwear that a road shoe will work just fine on the trails. I know I’m guilty of saying “sure, that “road” shoe will work fine on the trails you run”. Sure, it will work, but the shoe isn’t going to perform as well as a trail specific shoe would whether it’s the traction of the outsole, the weave of the mesh upper that’s going to let debris in, or how and inflexible shoe feels fine on the road but will not feel good on a winding forest trail. Trust me, we all hate feeling like we’re just trying to sell you on more stuff. We always take the position that we’re here to serve you, educate you, and make sure you’ve got everything you’re going to need to have a great run and nothing more.

So, what do you really need? First, you’ll need to examine what types of activities you are doing with your running/walking shoes. Are you running in the snow? Do you run on trails, and what type, technical or the river trail? Do you race? On roads or trails? All of these questions can lead to a different type of footwear. For me, I think I would narrow it down to 5 pairs of shoes (this would be totally different for each individual).

1) Road racing flats – I’d do a lot of road training and road long runs in this shoe. It’s light, efficient, narrow, airy and ventilated and fun to run fast in.

2) Trail racing flats – I’d do most of my training and trail runs in them. More traction than road flats, more flexible as well, thicker mesh and tighter weave to keep out big debris, and a full rubber outsole.

3) Hybrid cushy shoe – I’d do some easy runs when I needed some cush in these but they would work on trail or road. A neutral cushion shoe that is very flexible, has a good amount of cushion to it, open wide toe box, and runs well on the road or non-technical trail.

4) Mountain shoe – this is the shoe I use when I’m in the mountains. Tight weave upper to keep out all that fine pumice, big lugs for traction in snow, loose stuff, and off-trail, still flexible but with more protection from rocks than a flat, water resistant, and works with a gaiter.

5) Snow shoe/ valley shoe – I’d use this for running in the snow, slushy days in town, and muddy wet trails in the valley. This is a waterproof, highly lugged trail shoe, similar to the mountain shoe but waterproof and possibly has built in ice spikes.

I find that the more specific a shoe is for a given run, the more fun I have during that run. Take for example a day I had over in the valley: I don't get over to the valley very often but once in a while I do and the trails are always muddy so I always bring a trail shoe, possibly water proof, with big lugs for the mud. This lets me enjoy that run a bit more by not having wet feet and slipping and sliding everywhere. If you're training for something and doing specific workouts I also highly recommend a lighter weight racing shoe. It makes going fast fun, and easier.

Max's personal shoe wall
There are shoes for every type of run you might go on so I'm not saying you need 100 pairs of shoes, although I wouldn't argue if you did, but a small quiver focusing on your primary activities can help you enjoy them a bit more. Now, you also need to take this with a grain of salt from me as I do in fact have the ubiquitous 100+ pairs of shoes but I will say I find a different and varied use for just about every one of them. All this talk of shoes also sounds expensive, and you’re like, I can’t afford to buy 2 pairs of shoes, let along 5, but here’s the thing, how often do you have to run in the snow, or do a road workout, or run in the valley? Not very often, so these shoes last a long time but you’re so glad you have them when you need them. Trust me, it’s worth the investment as it will make some of those runs a lot more enjoyable. And that’s all we want for you here at FootZone. Enjoy the run.

And now is a perfect time to start that quiver too. With multiple sale shoes available and our Big Annual Sale Feb 5th - 9th with everything 20% off there's no better time to pick up that "extra" pair of shoes.